Why Sacramento Is The Capital Of California
Ask any grade school student in New York or Chicago what City is the capital of California; most would likely say Los Angeles or San Francisco. As amazing as it may seem, however, the Capitol of California is the City of Sacramento. Located within the Central Valley, Sacramento is California's seventh most populous city and certainly is not the most well known city in the State. So the question most people ask when they learn Sacramento is California's Capitol City: Why?
Settlement Of Sacramento
The history of the City of Sacramento is as old as the State of California itself. The area that would eventually become the City of Sacramento was originally settled by John Sutter. Sutter built Sutter's Fort in the heart of what is today Downtown Sacramento. Sutter's Fort was used as a trading colony and military stockade. The Fort was used to distribute the fruits, vegetables and other resources that were found in the area to Sacramento's earliest settlers. Sutter also built mills in the nearby foothills. It was at one of these mills in what is now Coloma where John Marshall, a Sutter employee, found gold in a stream in 1849.
Around the time Marshall screamed Eureka, John Sutter's son, John Sutter Jr. was planning to make Sacramento a City. The City of Sacramento was incorporated in 1849 and was the first incorporated City in the State of California. Due to Sacramento's location at the base of the foothills filled with Gold and only ninety miles inland from San Francisco, Sacramento was a major distribution center and center of gold Gold Rush activities. This is the reason Sacramento was the starting point of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Most of the people who came to California searching for fortune went through Sacramento. Further, the businesses and services that came to California along with the miners settled in Sacramento.
Sacramento Becomes The Capital
Originally, Monterey was chosen as the Capital of California. However, after Monterey hosted California's Consitutional Convention in 1849 and California was admiited as a State of the United States, the Capital was moved. San Jose was first chosen as the Capital City, then Vallejo and then Benicia. In 1854, the Capital was moved again, this time to Sacramento. And Sacramento was where it remained.
Sacramento was a logical choice for the Capital of California. First, because of the Gold Rush, Sacramento had become the destination point for the new settlers coming to California to strike it rich. With the gold miners came shopkeepers, blacksmiths, and other service related entrepreneurs that gave the City an economic base.
Second, Sacramento, unlike the other temporary Capitals was not near the ocean so there was little chance of invasion. However, Sacramento's proximity to rivers that led to San Francisco and other ports allowed the City to engage in the economy both on land and at sea.
Last, many of the most powerful people in the newly formed State of California were in Sacramento. John Sutter and John Marshall helped found the City. The City had already been planned, street grids were completed, and it already had a government in place. In Sacramento no city had to be formed. Rather, the Capital could be moved into an area that had already been established.
The California State Capital Building remains the the centerpiece of Downtown Sacramento. Around the Capital the buildings housing the State Government have risen to accommodate the growth of the state bureaucracy. The City of Sacramento has grown as well and still strives to be considered a big city comparable to Los Angeles and San Francisco. But as the other cities have all the perks and all the problems of big cities, Sacramento remains a small town at heart proud to house the center of government in California.